A day after refuting rumors that he has been involved with illegal drugs, Lawrence City Commissioner Bob Schumm revealed Thursday that he took and passed a drug test in February to protect himself from the rumors.
And Schumm, firing another salvo in a running battle with Commissioner David Penny over the issue of drug tests for city employees, said that although he submitted to urinalysis once and would do so again at any time if Penny wants him to, he won't yield in his opposition to Penny's proposal for broader drug-testing at city hall.
Penny said he's glad Schumm decided to take the drug test, but said Schumm's attitude doesn't help promote a positive stand against illegal drug use.
The latest round in the Schumm-Penny war of words came after Schumm spoke to a Kansas University journalism class Wednesday and refuted rumors about drug use. His comments to the class were reported in the University Daily Kansan. Penny also was quoted in the student newspaper, saying he had heard the rumors about Schumm and illegal drugs and that there was "no reason" Schumm shouldn't undergo drug testing.
THURSDAY NIGHT Schumm gave the Journal-World a copy of a laboratory report from a drug test he said he took Feb. 12 at the Lawrence Family Practice Center. Schumm said he had arranged earlier with then-acting City Manager Mike Wildgen to include him when members of the Lawrence Police Department underwent drug tests.
"I was so fearful of the environment of Dave's accusations and the editorial comment around the drug-testing question that I told Mike Wildgen I wanted to be included on the drug testing of the police department," Schumm said. Wildgen is now city manager.
The results of his test showed that Schumm tested negatively on screenings for each of 10 illegal or controlled substances, including cocaine and marijuana.
WILDGEN, WHO said he also took and passed a drug test that day with the officers and Schumm, said he didn't know whether Schumm's test could be called truly random, because Schumm had asked for the test.
But "it was random in the sense he didn't know very far ahead of time," Wildgen said. Wildgen said he contacted Schumm after being notified of the test time by Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin.
Olin said today that he believes he probably notified Wildgen the day before the test.
"I tried to give them as little lead time as possible," he said.
Schumm said he purposely kept the results of the test secret for a time but knew that at some point he probably would have to defend himself because of rumors swirling about his alleged involvement with illegal drugs.
THE RUMORS, Schumm said, began when he opposed Penny's proposal for commissioners, top city administrators and upper echelon law enforcement officers to undergo testing.
Penny, Schumm said, singled him out among commissioners in some kind of "drug involvement, drug abuse or drug situation, and I abhor those statements."
In his comments to the KU students, Schumm refuted rumors that linked him to illegal drugs. Schumm said he asked to speak to the class for two reasons: to set the record straight on rumors circulating about his alleged drug use and to impress upon the reporting students the need to remember that innocent people can be victimized by false rumors and efforts by reporters to investigate rumors.
One of the rumored stories alleged that Schumm was the unidentified person who was rescued from a latrine at Clinton Lake in August last year. The story held that Schumm was stuffed into the outhouse holding tank after a failed drug deal. Schumm, however, was in Spain with his family. He produced his passport to show that he was out of the country at the time of the incident.
OFFICIALS FROM the sheriff's, police and fire departments told the Journal-World that Schumm was not the man who got stuck in the outhouse. Lawrence Fire Department Capt. Jerry Karr, who helped rescue the man, was among the officials who said Schumm was not involved.
Contacted Thursday, Penny denied any complicity in spreading rumors about Schumm. He also said the rumors dated to 1986 when then-Kansas University executive secretary Richard von Ende was arrested on cocaine-trafficking charges.
"He's implying I proposed the thing (drug-testing requirements) and then started the rumors," Penny said. "I made the proposal, but I had nothing to do with the rumors."
Answered Schumm, "I never heard 'em before until this last election. Then I heard them an awful lot. They were pretty ugly."
As for Penny's drug-testing proposals, Schumm said that although Penny calls his plan "voluntary," Penny also said that "only the people who are using drugs are going to object."
"I WON'T let someone intimidate a whole group of people with guilt by association," Schumm said. "It starts to smack of police-state tactics."
Penny said Schumm is ``. . . self-serving in this thing, not community-serving. I want to establish a precedent in social policy (with voluntary drug testing). If he's not willing to do it without being reluctant or begrudging, he's not going to make a positive contribution."
Penny, a first-term commissioner, said he will continue his push for increased testing at city hall.
The city's drug-testing policy now includes pre-employment tests for new full-time employees, Wildgen said. When a candidate for a city job is selected, he or she must pass a physical which includes a drug test before he or she can be hired, he said. The city typically hires about 50 new employees in the course of a year, he said. Before this year, only new employees in public safety positions had to pass the test.
Wildgen said the policy also includes testing for current employees who are involved in accidents in which there is personal injury or property damage.
Current employees also can be tested if there's reasonable suspicion of substance abuse, he said, explaining that supervisors are trained to spot behaviors that indicate a problem.